Flathead County

County Re-secures Funding for North Fork Project

Multi-jurisdictional project is back on track to move forward next year

By Micah Drew
The North Fork Road and North Fork Flathead River on June 30, 2021. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

After a yearlong pushback due to funding issues, a multi-jurisdictional maintenance project aimed at improving several miles of the North Fork Road is once again set to move forward, according to Flathead County Public Works Director Dave Prunty.

The project, funded through the Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP), is a combined effort by four government agencies: Flathead County, Flathead National Forest, Glacier National Park and the U.S. Border Patrol. 

In 2016, when the Flathead County Commission first voted to move forward with the project, the U.S. Forest Service committed to contribute $126,000, Glacier Park kicked in $15,000, the Border Patrol pledged $100,000 and the county offered to provide $32,525 for dust palliative. 

The project was initially slated to begin this summer but in May Prunty announced it was delayed after the U.S. Border Patrol said it did not have its portion of the funding secured. 

Whitefish Border Patrol Station Agent-in-charge Christopher Young told the Beacon that the funding was de-obligated due to project delays.

“It was supposed to be 2019, then 2020. We’re working on getting it re-obligated,” Young said. 

The last delay of the project, which shifted the timeline from 2020 to 2021, was due to the Federal Highway Administration refusing to do work on a portion of North Fork Road that did not have a public easement on it. Flathead County remedied that by purchasing the easement from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation last year.  

“Border Patrol came through with their funding eventually so we had to go back and revise the agreement,” Prunty told the commissioners when he presented the amended agreement for their signature. 

FLAP was established to improve transportation routes that provide access to, are adjacent to, or located within federal lands, supplementing state and local resources for public roads. The local agencies are required to provide a 13.42% match of the federal funding.  

According to Prunty, under the new timeline work on the upper five miles of North Fork Road to the Canadian Border will take place next summer, with the improvements made to Glacier Drive planned for 2023, assuming the county is still able to obtain millings from Glacier National Park. 

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